Cameroon are set to take part in their eighth World Cup this year after missing out on the previous edition in Russia.
Things are rarely straightforward for Cameroon, and this was certainly the case during the playoffs. They were defeated at home by Algeria but stunned the Fennecs in Blida — the hosts’ first competitive loss at the Stade Mustapha Tchaker — when Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting scored the only goal of normal time. Ahmed Touba thought he’d won it with a 118th-minute goal, only for Karl Toko Ekambi’s 124th-minute volley to send Cameroon to Qatar. The Indomitable Lions had previously eliminated Cote d’Ivoire in the group, with Toko Ekambi again proving decisive at the Stade Japoma in November.
Their best run in the competition was a quarter-final finish back in 1990, when they won the hearts of fans across the world with their entertaining style of play.
They face a tough task to improve on that performance this time around as they were paired with favourites Brazil, Serbia and Switzerland in what will prove to be a tough group.
They have plenty of experience in their squad, though, and will be hoping to spring a surprise come November 24.
Here are the results, records, stats, top players and the history for Cameroon in the World Cup…
Cameroon – World Cup History
World Cup veterans Cameroon bring back memories of the 1990 World Cup for those of a certain age. They stunned the footballing world with their star man, 38-year-old veteran striker Roger Milla. Diego Maradona and the Argentine team were beaten in the first game before the ‘super sub’ Roger Milla helped see off Romania and Colombia to the quarter-finals. They were within seven minutes of making the last four until Gary Lineker saved England with two late penalties.
Since then, it’s been a tale of diminishing returns for the indomitable Lions. They’ve managed just one win in their subsequent 15 matches, never making it past the group stages.
While Cameroon officially made their debut at the global spectacle in Spain in 1982, one can only speculate whether they could have reached the World Cup earlier if it was not for a continent-wide boycott of the 1966 edition.
A 1964 FIFA ruling required the winners of the African and Asia/Oceania zones to compete for the only remaining spot for the World Cup, which ultimately led to an African-led boycott of the tournament. In contrast, Europe had 10 of the 16 available slots, with South America receiving four and North America one. African nations had argued for a separate qualification slot and for the tournament to be expanded. The boycott led to the expansion of future tournaments, which saw the return of an African nation in tournaments in the 1970s.
Cameroon entered the World Cup tournament in 1982 with a bang, getting three credible results including two goalless draws against Peru and Poland and a spirited one all-tie against eventual winners Paolo Rossi’s Italy.
Eight years later, they had grown into a formidable outfit causing one of the all-time shocks by beating titleholders Argentina 1-0 thanks to an immortal header from Francois Oman Biyik. That victory spurred Cameroon to others over Romania, Colombia in the last 16 and an unfortunate defeat against England in the quarter-finals where they lost 2-3 after extra time.
Going into the 1994 World Cup, a nationwide solidarity gesture was organized to galvanize the Lions in order for them to repeat the exploits of the past edition with the hopes of even going one further. But issues of match bonuses and dressing room problems salvaged them only a draw against Sweden and two defeats particularly the crushing 1-6 against Russia.
1998 returns weren’t rosy either with only a defeat to Italy (3-0) and two draws, one against Austria despite a goal of the tournament contender by Njanka Pierre, a demoralising draw against Chile where Cameroon had a real qualification chance of making the second round despite having legitimate goals called off by referee Laszlo Vagner.
Cameroon were dark horse contenders for the World Cup title in 2002 with betting odds of 33-1. A squad filled with incredible talent across the pitch following back-to-back AFCON title wins and even an Olympic gold medal could only must 4 points in 3 games including the defeat at the penultimate match against Germany 0-2.
The run of four consecutive appearances at the finals of the World Cup was broken in 2005 but Cameroon qualified for the 2010 World Cup, the first on African soil in South Africa. The old wounds opened up once more due to personnel infighting and squabbles over match bonuses. 3 defeats ensued and Cameroon ended the tournament in 31st place.
2014 in Brazil brought out the old demons back again. Apart from problems of match bonuses, the chasm in the team was laid bare for all to see with Alexander Song getting a red card in the defeat against Croatia with a violent knock on Croatia’s Mandzukic. The on-screen fight between Assou-Ekotto and Moukandjo even caused the state and government officials to impose laws governing the practice of football in Cameroon.
The team rebuild started in 2015 brought about an unlikely AFCON 2017 win but the young team couldn’t qualify for Russia 2018.
Qatar 2022 finally became a reality and here’s hoping this generation can write its own history during this edition.
Cameroon – Indomitable Lions’ World Cup results
Cameroon have played at the tournament more than any other African side, competing seven times since their debut in 1982.
The Qatar World Cup will be Cameroon’s eight such competition and marks a return to the global stage after missing out on a place in Russia four years ago.
World Cup Round Opponent Score Result Venue Cameroon scorers
1982 Group stage Peru 0–0 D A Coruña —
Poland 0–0 D A Coruña —
Italy 1–1 D Vigo Grégoire M’Bida
1990 Group stage Argentina
Roger Milla (2)
Round of 16 Colombia
Roger Milla (2)
Emmanuel Kundé, Eugene Ekéké
1994 Group stage Sweden
David Embé, François Omam-Biyik
1998 Group stage Austria
2002 Group stage Republic of Ireland
2010 Group stage Japan
L Cape Town
2014 Group stage Mexico
Cameroon – World Cup records
In 1990, Cameroon became the first African team to make the quarterfinals of the World Cup. Cameroon also has the record participation for any African team at the finals of the World Cup with 8 finals appearances. Here are other World Cup records detained by Cameroon…
Largest age difference on the same team:
24 years and 42 days, 1994; Rigobert Song (17 years and 358 days) and Roger Milla (42 years and 35 days)
Longest span of World Cup finals appearances as a player:
Rigobert Song (1994 -2010), Samuel Eto’o (1998 – 2014)
Most goals scored in a match:
Oleg Salenko (Russia) vs Cameroon, 1994
Oldest goal scorer:
42 years, 39 days, Roger Milla, Cameroon vs Russia, 28 June 1994
Oldest debut goal:
38 years, 19 days, Roger Milla
Oldest player who received Bronze Boot for being top goal scorer on the tournament:
Roger Milla, 38 years, 49 days
Most sending off of all time:
Rigobert Song (1994, 1998)
Most cautions in a match for both teams:
16 – Cameroon vs Germany, 11 June 2002
Most suspension for a player in a tournament:
2 – Andre Kana Biyik (1990)
Cameroon – World Cup stats
In seven FIFA World Cup tournaments, Cameroon has played 23 matches – four victories, twelve losses and seven draws. The Indomitable Lions have scored a total of 18 goals and conceded 43.
They reached a high of seventh place at the 1990 World Cup and slipped to a low of 32nd twenty-four years later in Brazil, where they were knocked out in the first round of matches.
All time top scorers: Roger Milla (5 goals in 3 WCs), Samuel Eto’o (3 goals in 4 WCs)
All time matches played: 11 (François Oman Biyik)
Cameroon – Top Indomitable Lions at World Cups
In 1982, Michel Kaham, Roger Milla, Jean-Pierre Tokoto, Joseph Antoine Bell, Paul Bahoken, and Ibrahim Aoudou plied their trade out of Cameroon but the real stars going into the World Cup were local players team captain Thomas N’kono and midfield wizard, Theophile Abega.
Heading into the 1990 World Cup, much had changed with 11 local players making the cut although the star of the show was certainly attacking spearhead François Oman Biyik. But Roger Milla proved to be the standout performer with his 4 goals. While this trend continued for the 1994 and 1998 World Cups, Patrick M’boma was the top player leading the lines for Cameroon in 2002.
The relay baton was then transmitted to Samuel Eto’o for the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.
Going to Qatar 2022, Vincent Aboubakar, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Zambo Anguissa and Andre Onana certainly lead the pack to write their own history.